SPECIAL OFFER FOR BOOK CLUBS AND READING GROUPS
Michele is a long-time book club member, and would love to chat with your book club or reading group about Most Wanted or The Finishing School. There are lots of interesting questions and topics that spring out of the books, including issues of career versus family commitments, personal and cultural identity, parent-child relationships, what it means to be a "good" mother, the role of office politics, the roots of infidelity, and more. You can get some ideas from the Discussion Questions listed below. In addition, Michele has written two articles about the process of writing crime fiction and how she made the transition to being a full-time writer, both of which have prompted lots of discussion among readers.
Because she's such a fan of book clubs and reading groups herself, for a limited time Michele will personally appear by telephone at your book club or reading group meeting -- at no cost to you. Michele will even pay for the call if your group is in the U.S. or Canada. What could be easier? All you need is a group who's read Most Wanted or The Finishing School and a phone with a speakerphone on it! Contact Michele by clicking here and she'll be delighted to arrange it with you.
1. At the beginning of Most Wanted, Melanie Vargas “goes for it?and gets herself assigned to the Jed Benson murder investigation despite the complicated state of her personal life. How did you react to her decision? Did you understand it? Did it influence your views of Melanie’s character in a positive or negative way?
2. Certain of Melanie’s difficult childhood experiences are recounted in flashbacks throughout Most Wanted. What, if anything, did this window into Melanie’s childhood add to your understanding of her character? In what ways did you view her childhood experiences as influencing her actions in Most Wanted?
3. In Most Wanted, we see that Melanie’s views on whether to stay in her marriage are influenced by her father’s abandonment of her family when she was younger. Do you think she is influenced by this factor too much? Do you believe that Steve is truly remorseful about his infidelity? Should Melanie give him another chance? How does her attraction to Dan O’Reilly influence her feelings about her marriage? Which guy would you like to see Melanie end up with and why?
4. Throughout Most Wanted, there are a number of characters who might possibly be responsible for, or involved in, Jed Benson’s murder, including Slice, Rommie Ramirez, Nell Benson, Sarah van der Vere, Dolan Reed and even Dan O’Reilly. Which of these characters did you suspect? Which characters came across as the most evil? How or why were appearances deceiving? Which “bad?characters did you have the greatest degree of sympathy for and why? Did you feel these characters got justice?
5. At the end of Most Wanted, Melanie finds herself in a situation where she herself must decide whether to resort to violence. What did you think of her actions in the climactic scenes? If you found yourself in a similar situation, do you think you would pull the trigger?
The Finishing School
1. The events in The Finishing School are set off by the disastrous choices made by two privileged teenagers. What motivated Whitney Seward and Brianna Meyers to act as they did? Bad values? Bad parenting? A desire to fit in? Greed?
2. From the first day of the investigation, Melanie identifies with Carmen Reyes and her father Luis. Why? How do Melanie's feelings for the missing girl affect her choices in solving the crime? Do you think it's appropriate for a law enforcement professional to allow personal feelings about victims to influence his or her actions?
3. The Finishing School is partly about the roles that wealth, social class and ethnicity play in modern-day Manhattan. Pick a character and talk about where he or she fits on the social spectrum and how that influences motivations and actions.
4. In The Finishing School, Melanie renews and deepens her relationship with Dan O'Reilly. Do you think that's a smart move? Is Melanie ready for a relationship this intense? Why or why not? Should she hold off and focus on parenting Maya instead? What do Melanie and Dan have in common? Do you think the relationship will last?
5. Melanie and her sister Linda deal with their father's abandonment in very different ways. How does this event from Melanie's past influence her in the present? What did you think of the way she handled her reunion with her father in The Finishing School?
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1. Melanie Vargas always struggles to balance her demanding career with her responsibilities to her baby daughter Maya. What outside factors constrain her actions as she tries to find the right balance? How do her decisions and her actions compare with your own views on the relative importance of career vs. motherhood?
2. How does Melanie’s social, economic and ethnic background affect her? How does it compare to that of the two men in her life, Steve Hanson and Dan O’Reilly, and play into her relationships with them?
3. What role does Melanie’s ethnic background play in her work? Does it advantage her, disadvantage her or both? Does Melanie face stereotyping in the workplace or not?
4. Discuss Melanie’s relationship with her boss, Bernadette DeFelice. Do Melanie and Bernadette have similar values? What about their ethics as prosecutors? How do they balance career and personal issues? What do you admire or dislike about Bernadette? Do you feel that Bernadette treats Melanie fairly?
5. What values and characteristics does Melanie bring to her work? Why do you think she is so determined as a prosecutor? Is it ambition? Belief in the system? A desire to fight crime because she was a crime victim herself?